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How Can a Consumer Evaluate whether a Book, Article, or a Web Site Has Reliable Nutritional Information?

No one would argue that health is a key component of happiness, which has great impact on all other spheres of life. Taking into account that a right diet is an important factor that influences health, it is obvious that a lot of people seek ways to improve it. As a result, a large amount of products is proposed and it is essential to be well informed about products’ properties and possible impact on organism to make a right decision. The question is how to find information one can rely on?

Obviously, one can find nutritional information in various sources, such as: books, articles, Web sites. But it is important that you find objective, reliable and up-to-date information. Therefore, when you read a book or an article, take time to look up author’s biography, name of the publishing house or magazine, references to other works. Evidently, well-known magazines are more likely to be trusted, but none-the-less it is essential that the author has a medical background and supports his/her thesis with facts and up-to-date researches.

Nowadays, many people search Internet resources for needed information. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine lists 10 questions people need to answer to evaluate medical resources on the Web. These questions are the following:

1. Who runs the site?

2. Who pays for the site?

3. What is the purpose of the site?

4. Where does the information come from?

5. What is the basis of the information?

6. How is the information selected?

7. How current is the information?

8. How does the site choose links to other sites?

9. What information about you does the sit collect and why?

10. How does the site manage interactions with visitors?

Answers to these questions will help you to reveal goals that site is aimed to accomplish, which in turn gives you valuable insights on reliability of information. For example, if Web site is sponsored by a drug company, you could expect that articles on the site will tend to explicit information that favor certain company’s products.

Sometimes you might decide to buy some product that you have seen in commercial, but remember to ask the firm to substantiate the claims made for the product. You should also be aware that sometimes firms may provide undocumented reports from satisfied consumers, or “internal” graphs and charts as a proof of their claims that often could be mistaken for evidence-based research. To get relevant information ask whether the company conducted tests on the safety or efficacy of the ingredients in the product, whether it has quality control system and whether adverse reports from its consumers were received.

On TV, radio, in newspapers and magazines you find a lot of information as to improving your health much of which is supported by recent studies. But you should be critical as to such news for it is well known that research results of various scientists might contradict each other. Therefore, it is important that you analyze whether given information is based on one study or on the entire body of evidence on a topic, you should also take into account whether the study was large and done in humans, whether it studied real disease endpoints or only markers of these diseases. All of the above is essential for it sets ground for a justified decision as to reliability of provided information.

At present, the major question is not where to find needed information but how to evaluate its reliability. When you seek nutritional information remember that every resource has its goal to accomplish that impacts its content. Therefore, be critical and use resources that are interested in providing unbiased, objective data like those supported by government agencies, well known research centers and educational institutions.

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